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Fantasy Football Week 3: Sleepers, Previews and the Truth

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Happy Week 3, Everybody. 

I say this without exclamation because I'm already exhausted.  All the build-up to fantasy football and all the preparation has put me in a good position, but good Lord it is tough to keep track of four teams.  (Sorry to my leagues without money on the line, but let's be honest.)

The most important thing about the first two weeks is to not make snap judgments.  After over a decade of playing this game, I've learned that it's the moves I make that hurt me more than the moves that I do not.  Its the fantasy of fantasy that let our imaginations run wild when we think about "Well what if THIS!" or "What if THAT!"  Try not to worry so much about the "what ifs" and deal in "what IS."

What is true?  The biggest truth for me yesterday was the 3-game suspension of Cedric Benson.  He will play this week against San Francisco at home, and his appeal will be held on Tuesday.  How many appeals actually work?  I think it's more likely that Chad Ochocinco returns to the Bengals and Carson Palmer gets a key to the city.  It just won't happen.

In his absence is Bernard Scott.  I've always like Scott and have been hoping to see him get a bigger role in the offense.  Even if he shares carries with Brian Leonard, I think there's a chance he carries value with Benson out and I added him in the leagues that I could.  The Bengals play the Bills, Jags, and Colts during that stretch.  (So yeah, get Scott.)

Another truth in Cincinnati is that Jerome "Ocho-Poundo" Simpson is in trouble this week because he was busted with over eight pounds of marijuana.  Simpson was gaining popularity in fantasy, especially after his 136-yard game against Denver last week.  But his interest in "Friday" is going to harm his production on Sunday.  Ever seen a player catch a touchdown... on weed?  (Probably.)

More preview fun after the jump.  Sleepers, and rankings, and all that other stuff you guys like...

The Five Sleepers

5.  Andre Caldwell, Bengals

Sticking with the Bengals here for a sleeper, but why not?  Ocho-Poundo is too busy packing his bong and Jordan Shipley will require medical marijuana for a torn ACL.  You may be thinking "Hasn't he been in the league forever?" but you're actually thinking of Reche Caldwell.

Andre ended last season with 15 catches for 270 yards over the last three games.  Opportunity knocks again against a 49ers defense 427 yards passing to Dallas in week two, and got burned by Doug "anonymous" Baldwin in week one.  Andre could find himself in a good situation this season playing opposite of AJ Green and with the Bengals on a soft schedule.

4. Nate Washington, Titans

Take one cup of Denver Broncos, one cup of Matt Hasselbeck getting the most time in the pocket he's had since 2007, half-a-cup of Champ Bailey being out of the game, and 2 tablespoons of playing opposite of Kenny Britt and what do you get?  

Nothing.  That's not a real system of measurement.  It made no sense.  Why did you follow along so long?  That's just silly.  But Nate Washington will have 6 catches for 85 yards and a TD.

3. Brandon Jacobs, Giants

It's always hard to find true running back sleepers when you're trying to dig deep.  You can't dig that deep and be right very often.  Ahmad Bradshaw is the "#1 back" in New York, but so far their carries have split out as 28 for Bradshaw and 22 for Jacobs.  

The Eagles defense seems all "scary" and everything, but they've allowed 5.3 yards per carry to the Rams and Falcons.  Jacobs is a good back and a good bet to get most of the carries inside the 10.  

2. Tarvaris Jackson, Seahawks

Please don't start Jackson on my account.  Oh, you weren't going to?  Thank God for that, because then you can't blame me if he pulls a "Tarvaris," which to my understanding is defined as "The complete inability to impress, inspire, or illicit thoughts of admiration.  A complete letdown.  Also known as a: Campbell."

That being said, the Seahawks could see the return of Sidney Rice this week and the Cardinals pass defense is really suffering without Greg Toler.  Super-rookie Patrick Peterson needs more time to adjust to the NFL.  T-Jack could top 200 yards with a couple of scores.  No, really!

1. Mike Thomas, Jaguars

Is this finally the 2011 arrival of Mike Thomas we were waiting for?  He had 66 catches for 855 yards last year, but then the Jags cut their starter and decided to start Luke CheckDown instead.  lolwut?

They faced a couple of tough pass defenses in weeks 1 and 2, but they draw Carolina now.  Cam Newton has done a good job of distracting everybody from how bad their pass defense is.  I'm not saying Blaine Gabbert is going to go off this weekend, because he probably won't, but sometimes these young guys draw good relationships early with a wide receiver.  Maybe that starts on Sunday.

The Five Guys to Avoid

5. Eli Manning

I'm going to start calling Eli Manning "AIG" because I've never seen a quarterback get bailed out so much in my life.  That's when the Super Bowl dawned on me and of course why didn't I really notice it before?  Hakeem Nicks pulls down some amazing catches, and we say "WOW WHAT A CATCH!" and not so much "Why wasn't it just catchable to begin with?"

Eli does what he does, which is put the ball into the vicinity of his talented receivers.  One of those receivers, Domenik Hixon, is out for the season.  Mario Manningham could be out this week too.  That leaves less bailouts for Manning against an Eagles defense that has 9 sacks, 2 interceptions, and is allowing 180 passing yards per game.  It's a recipe for disaster.  When will I stop using recipe analogies?!

4. Cedric Benson

The Seahawks and Cowboys don't have the best rush offenses in the league this year, but still the 49ers are first in the league against the run and allowing 2.5 yards per carry.  Before Benson hits the sidelines on suspension, he'll get to go this Sunday at home against San Francisco.

He's put up 180 yards so far this season but he'll be "handcuffed" and "kept in confinement" this week against the Niners.  Hardy.  Har.  Har.  

3. Beanie Wells

Chris, as I like to call him, has been a pleasant surprise for the Cardinals and fantasy owners this season.  It might seem quite appealing to see any player go against the hapless Seahawks, but the truth is that rush defense is one of the few things this team can do right.

When healthy on the defensive line last year, the Hawks were shutting down opposing backs.  Their 3.1 YPC against is tied for 4th in the NFL and on top of that, Beanie is banged up this week, he hurt his hamstring on practice on Thursday.  If you have a better option to start, you may want to avoid Wells.

2. Brandon Lloyd

It's my understanding that Lloyd will play this week, but coming off of a missed game with injury, it could take him a week to get fully re-acclimated.  On top of that, the Titans are third in the NFL against the pass and have only allowed 1 TD through the air.  I kind of like Eric Decker more this week.

1. Percy Harvin

Is this the week that Harvin faces a mass exodus in fantasy leagues?  Right here coach Leslie Frazier talks about the team use of Harvin this season and partially explains (okay, he doesn't explain it all really, he just acknowledges it) why he's only on the field about half of the time on offense.  

This week the Vikings face the Lions, 7th in the NFL in passing yards allowed with only a single TD given up through the air.  

The Five "And Boom Goes the Dynamite" Players of the Week

5. Chris Johnson

He's one of the biggest disappointments of the first two weeks of the season but everybody knows that the Denver Broncos are always a great cure for the blues.  They got lit up by DMC in week one, though Cedric Benson did very little against them last week.  I don't think this game will be as close and CJ is not Cedric Benson.  150 total yards and a score or two is not out of the question.

4. Philip Rivers

Though he's thrown for over 700 yards and 4 TDs, we've expected better out of Rivers this season.  He's had 4 picks and a fumble and he was held in check by the Patriots defense somewhat.  Come on man.  The Chiefs have given up 89 points this season and the Chargers are due for some kind of offensive blow-up at home.  I'd play any Chargers I could, but hopefully this is "Baby's Big Day" for Rivers.

3. Ray Rice

It's a matchup of the leagues worst rushing defense against one of the most versatile and talented running backs in the league.  The similarly-skilled LeSean McCoy had 137 yards and 2 scores on the Rams.  Rice should get there on Sunday. 

2. Larry Fitzgerald

It was an easy call to put Mike Wallace here last week because he was facing the Seahawks.  They don't have anyone capable of covering a wide receiver with that much talent.  One of the few NFL players with more talent than Wallace is Fitzgerald, who is enjoying his best season since 2008.  At least, I hope he is enjoying it.  If he's hating it then screw him.  10 catches, 165 yards, 2 TDs.

1. Shonn Greene

The Jets were 4th in the league in rushing last season and 2nd in rushing attempts.  I really hope that they don't think its time to "Let Sanchez Loose!" because that is a ridiculous notion.  Through two games they are 17th in attempts and 28th in rushing yards. 

The Raiders are last in the NFL in yards per carry allowed at 7.1, but they're 2nd to last in attempts against.  Greene is only averaging 2.9 YPC so far this season but expect that number to go way up after Sunday.  Fun Fact: The best game of Greene's career came on October 25th, 2009 against Oakland when he had 144 yards and 2 TD's. 

The Five Best Games of the Week

5. Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings.  The Lions try to win their first road game against a division opponent since week 9 of 2007 in Chicago.  Did you know the Lions started 6-2 that season?

4. Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys.  The Redskins try to go 3-0 for the first time since 2005.  The Cowboys could be starting Michael Irvin at WR.

3. Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears.  I say the Packers pick up their first loss of the season.  What say you?

2. New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills.  The only 3 teams to not make the playoffs this century are Buffalo, Detroit, and Houston.  All 3 of them are 2-0.  Are the Bills going to get to 3-0 at home?  First to 100 wins this game.

1. New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles.  Michael Vick should play which is cool.  But Eli will also play, which stinks.  Hakeem Nicks versus Nnamdi.  Then what?  Mario Manningham and Domenik Hixon are out.  Breakout for Victor Cruz

Follow me on Twitter for more of this crap.

More Notes:

  • I did go nuts on the Bernard Scott pickups as soon as I heard the news.  People in one of the leagues were pissed because they were late.  Twitter is your best friend people.  It is literally, the best tool for winning your fantasy league.  After this site of course.  But twitter lets you know when we post new articles so whoop there it is.
  • I know the Giants and Eagles game is going to be the game they show on Fox for the morning game which is cool, but at the same time am I the only person that is getting tired of seeing the same teams play every single week?  I could tell you every stupid fact about Eli Manning and Michael Vick but I couldn't pick DeAngelo Williams out of a lineup.  If I had my choice I'd be watching Carolina and the Jags and "holy crap, did I just say that?"  But yes, I'd rather see two rookie QB's duel it out, than watch another freaking NFC East divisional game.
  • On CBS I hope its the Patriots and Bills.  I didn't put Steve Johnson in my top 5 list up there, but the Patriots don't cover #1 WR's, so I expect him to have a big game.  I don't know what the over/under on total points is for the game, but I'm taking the over. 
  • I'm starting Ben Tate over Jahvid Best.  Not just because of any matchup reasons, but because if there's one thing I've learned after 10 years of playing fantasy football and Texas Hold'Em poker its that you never quit when you're hot.  Tate is the hottest running back in the league and I don't just mean because of his looks.  To be honest, I have no idea what Tate looks like.  Come on TV network people, put the Texans on TV more.  Don't overthink this one, just put Tate in if you can.
  • Seriously though, what if the Texans, Lions, and Bills all move to 3-0 this season?  They all have a challenge this week.  Even if the Vikings are one of the worst 5 teams in the NFL, the Lions still have to get over the hump of winning on the road and against a divisional opponent.  The Texans have to win at New Orleans.  The Bills have to beat the Patriots.  The Bills might have the best shot this week since they are playing at home.  Also, if all 3 of these teams make the playoffs, I heard that the NFL may just fold up shop and call it a day.
  • I'm starting to feel really bad for the Chiefs.  And I'm a Seahawks fan.  That's how bad things are for Kansas City right now. 
  • Somehow I don't think I've mentioned once that the Falcons play the Buccaneers.  I can't say that there's any one matchup that I love in that game, but I'm sure that someone will do good.  If the Falcons build a lead it could be a huge day for Michael Turner and a terrible day for LeGarrette Blount.  If the Bucs build a lead, then its opposite day.
  • If the Colts go 0-16, I've given up any faith in things ever working out for the less fortunate.  Seriously?  This is the year you go 0-16? 
  • I never write Nnamdi's last name because I won't even pretend or try to know how to spell it.  There, I admitted something about myself.  Because that's the kind of guy I am.
  • Good Luck.